College of Agriculture & Natural Resources
Agricultural & Resource Economics

University of Maryland Ph.D. Candidate Wins Best Student Paper Award from the US and International Associations of Energy Economics

Anastasia Shcherbakova and Jen HeJen Z. He, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of Maryland, was awarded the Dennis O’Brien USAEE Best Student Paper Award at the 34th USAEE/IAEE North American conference earlier this week.

He was inspired to write the paper in 2014. She was browsing the internet to learn about how California had solved their air pollution problem with policies.

“I stumbled upon a forum of heavy duty truckers being taken out of business,” said He. “I felt bad for them, and that is how I got interested.”

Her paper, “Heterogeneous responses and differentiated taxes: evidence from the heavy-duty trucking industry in the U.S.,” discusses how fuel taxes may be used as a way to address the negative externalities of trucking, including local air pollutants, greenhouse gas emissions, noise pollution, traffic congestion, road deterioration and vehicle accidents.

He’s paper revealed that differentiated taxes based on vehicle weight class reduces the current distortion, generates a welfare gain, and reduces the total taxes paid by the trucking industry.

The paper was submitted to the contest in May 2016. During the summer, He was notified that she had made it to the final four. For the second round of judging, she had to give a 15 to 20 minute presentation on her paper to a different set of judges.

“I was unsure of the backgrounds of the people in the audience,” said He. “I wanted the presentation to be a story telling type, to explain ‘why do I care’ and the ‘so what’.”

On October 25, the United States Association for Energy Economics (USAEE) announced He had won the award at the conference, and she was given a $1,000 prize for her paper. The award was presented by Anastasia Shcherbakova, a clinical assistant professor at the University of Texas at Dallas and a member of the USAEE conference program committee.

The conference took place from October 23 to the 26 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Its focus was on discussing self-sufficient energy use in North America and the implications it has for the future.

He plans to have the paper published in a journal, and to continue researching the heavy-duty trucking industry, as well as a variety of energy economics topics. He’s primary areas of interest include energy and environmental economics, industrial organization and applied microeconomics.

For more information, please visit the web page of Jen Z. He on the AREC web site.

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